Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Campfire Censorship

Been some interesting discussions along the 'is it appropriate?' line in various different places regarding certain campfire songs and skits.

So the first thing to say is - there are no banned songs or banned skits in Guiding.

It is left up to the campfire leader to judge what is or is not appropriate, bearing in mind the circumstances. So it depends on when, and where. On what age group(s) are at the event. And, on the campfire leader's own personal opinion. Some of the songs which used to be popular (indeed used to appear in official publications) are the sort which people nowadays would tend to avoid as times and tastes change, and things which once were ordinary, can now be seen as offensive. Topics such as race and disability are a lot more sensitive.

I'm sure every campfire leader will have songs which they know, but choose not to lead or teach, for their own reasons or tastes. (I've never taught Baby Bumble Bee!) Or some songs which they only do with Rainbows and young Brownies, or only with Guide-age, or only with adults.

It's actually a very difficult job - walking the line between the sort of songs the girls will want to sing (Guides do enjoy the likes of 'Jumped Without A Parachute', and 'Tom the Toad', Brownies enjoy 'A Brownie Ate Some Marmalade) with the risk that you could teach songs some Leaders have deliberately chosen not to share with their units. And there are still some campfire Leaders who will pack the 'quiet' section of the programme with a non-stop stream of religious songs, in some cases without being aware of it, in some cases not realising that people are being excluded by it.

Skits should ideally be previewed by the campfire leader, or by someone she trusts, both to ensure that they are appropriate, and to ensure they work - that the audience can follow the storyline, and that there is a clear beginning, middle and end, ideally not too far apart!

So, what if you are at a joint event and the campfire leader does an item you'd rather she hadn't? Then arrange to have a quiet word afterwards - and make sure it is a calm, quiet word. Jumping up in the middle of the event in order to make a point - will only draw the girls' attention to something that, chances are, half of them wouldn't otherwise have picked up on anyway. A quiet word afterwards gives the campfire leader the chance to consider your point of view, and judge for herself whether it is valid or not. And if you are that campfire leader, try to listen calmly and consider whether there is validity in the point being made. Different things offend different people, one person's inoccuous can be another person's offensive . . .

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